Each month, Good Times' resident film critic, Sarah Smyth, chooses a hotly anticipated film for our readers. For August, she picks biopic-documentary, Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words.
I begin this month with a confession: I have always wanted to be Swedish. They are simply the best at everything. They have an extremely high standard of living. They produce excellent pop music. They have the best gender equality in the world. They have a six-hour workday. They have the hottest men. They have coffee and cake twice a day. And the produce the best movie stars.
So perhaps I am slightly biased in picking this month’s film (although committed readers might notice that I have a tendency to push female-driven and independent films, both of which are passions of mine…). But the new biopic-documentary, Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, promises to deliver a unique and intimate insight into the Swedish actress that would interest even the most Swede-averse.
For those unfamiliar with her work (and, if you are, I highly recommend you fill the gap in your classical Hollywood cinema pronto), Bergman starred in Hollywood classics including Casablanca (1942), Gaslight (1944), Spellbound (1945) and Notorious (1946). She won three Academy Awards for Gaslight, Anastasia (1957)and Murder on the Orient Express(1975), where she trails only marginally behind Katherine Hepburn’s record for holding four Academy Awards. As well as her impressive acting talent, she was recognised for her natural yet captivating beauty (although she was criticised for being too tall at 5 foot 9 inches!). Like most actresses in the Hollywood Golden era, however, her life didn’t escape scandal. On the set of Stromboli (1950), Bergman and the film’s director, Roberto Rossellini, began an affair, resulting in a pregnancy and a huge scandal on her return to the US. Still married to her first husband, with whom she also had a daughter, Bergman lost custody of her child and was forced to return to Europe, berated for being an adulterer and a terrible role model. She wasn’t to return to the American screen for six years.
Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words promises viewers an intimate and in-depth insight into the actress behind the screen (and the tabloids). The film uses excerpts from diaries and letters (read by Alicia Vikander), private photographs and home videos to create a complex and nuanced portrait of the woman and actress. Attention is given particularly to her early life in Sweden including the early deaths of her mother and father, her lonely childhood, and her first experiences of acting. The film also explores her legacy not only as an actress but as a mother. Interviews with her four surviving children, including the actress and model, Isabella Rosselli, reveal her fun and playful personality. But they also hint at her professional insecurity, resulting in many hours dedicated to work.
Why it’s worth seeing? Actresses, particularly the stars of classical Hollywood cinema, are so often remembered for their beauty or their scandalous love lives. Bergman is no exception. An opportunity to celebrate their talent and achievements both in their professional and personal lives should be triumphed, then. Offering a layered and complex depiction of an icon, Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words is not to be missed.
Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words is released in UK cinemas on 12th August 2016.
Sarah is our regular film blogger. Learn more about her here.
Have you seen it yet? Tell us about it in that shiny new comments box below.